John McGrail

John McGrail


Thought provoking, melodic, think what if U2 were folk musicians but a wee bit darker...


In his home town of Cleveland they call him a folkie. But is that really accurate? Sure when he performs in concert it is predominantly an acoustic guitar and his voice but does that make it folk music? Is the opening cut from his latest album “All Our Fallen Tears” a folk song or “One By One” or “You”?. Since when have power chords been part of the folk music scene? Yes there are songs that might fall into that medium. Delicate songs like “Don’t Make Me Stay” or “To His Knees” or “All Stays the Same”. Perhaps the socio-political nature of some of the songs like “Aryan Nation Man”, "Sons Of Abraham" and others would be of a folk leaning but when the song is in 5/4 time what does it become then? Can you see Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger or Bob Dylan playing this stuff? Maybe... maybe not. The spirit is certainly there. So is it folk?? Who knows and does it really matter? Not to John. He just wants to play his music. He will do it the way he wants. He will make it so it sounds the way he wants it to sound. At that point he hopes the world will appreciate it. If it doesn’t well, he may be disappointed, but his life is no worse for wear. An artist has to make one’s art, regardless of medium, and then hope for the best. If one does that then one can be happy.

John has been playing the guitar and writing songs for 30+ years and performing for most of that time. He has opened for such national acts as The Cowboy Junkies, The Proclaimers, Texas, political folk singer Dan Bern (of Righteous Babe Records) and Don Conoscenti. Additionally he has performed with The Chieftains and Native American singer songwriter Bill Miller. His music has taken him to Ireland, Europe, Africa and Mexico.


All Our Fallen Tears

Written By: John McGrail

I don’t understand
what is going on
the sky is turning black
he rain burns the ground
all across the land
we keep hearing a sound
we are under attack
our fear has us bound

they try to turn on us
all our fallen tears
the only thing we have to fear
are those instilling the fear

we can’t be blind or we are to blame
must try to find the truth in this game
yes it’s all different nothing is the same
must fight our diffidence or go down in flames

we can see the landscape has been poisoned
we can see they’ll let nothing stand in their way
will we act or will we stand frozen
the possibility is there for a better day

darkness is coming vigilance is a must
their mouths keep running though they’ve lost our trust
we must take back the power that they lust
fight off their attacks return to what is just

One By One

Written By: John McGrail

One by one will we follow
One by One will we decay
are we turning so hollow
we can never get away

Are we to blame or are we blind
are we ashamed cuz we can’t find
what we don’t know can take its toll
yet we believe all that we’re told

what do you know like lemmings on the edge
question commands or it could be the end
bleating like sheep or bleeding like soldiers
as no questions you’re just getting older

perhaps you’re correct
perhaps you err
the hammer will fall
the hammer will fall
for the subjects
who really cares
when you’re up against the wall
when you’re up against the wall

oiling the machine and foiling our dreams
smoke and fire what could it means
a barren landscape or a frozen stream
a thought or mind why can’t we find

Fallen Angel

Written By: John McGrail

I walked into a church
and I knelt to pray
I didn’t know what I was doing
I knew not what to say

oh so many come here
seeking solace and more
I was hoping my efforts might yield
something I felt before

fallen angel
think like the devil
seeking only heaven
but finding only hell

I stayed awhile that day
though I didn’t say much
for I’d forgotten how to pray
since I used it as a crutch

oh so many follow this ritual
yet I night not grasp it
but I don’t doubt the sincerity
of what is spiritual
someone show me the way
someone show me the key
someone show me the way.....

Mmm then I left
with a funny feeling inside
somehow somewhere along the way
part of me had died

many years later
I tried it again
many years pass by
I saw that old church
like a friend who had died..

Sons Of Abraham

Written By: John McGrail

Sons of Abraham
what are ya trying to do
there’s blood on the sand
its blood from you

and this blood has descended from you
what are your children trying to do
is this the legacy to be left in your name
oh Abraham do you ever feel a little ashamed

this is not the first time that descendent
against each other deliberately take up arms
if I could I would stop it in a second
sometimes it seems the only point is to harm

and soon this blood will run together
collecting in one deathly red pool
will it stay like this forever
a collecting pool... for fools

and what about your western brothers
do they turn a blind eye
lip service but little more
perhaps they care not if you live or die

I don’t understand all this violence and retribution
how can yo hear anything if you won’t listen
do you think you’ll ever be able to trust
those you’ve terrorized or beaten into submission

sons of Abraham
why all this violence
perhaps your final solution
is a deathly silence.

All Stays The Same

Written By: John McGrail

It All stays the same
Nothing ever changes
It always seems to rain
And I can't make the sunshine
On this cloudy day
Nothing ever changes
It all stays the same

I see your face and there's something strangely familiar
It's like something I see everyday
The lines, the cracks, the tension burned in
It's like something I see in the morning when I shave
Must be contagious cuz it seems to be everywhere
Your friends your coworkers all the people you see on the street
Maybe you're just imagining it. Maybe you're going mad!!
Then again maybe everyone else feels like meat
Is there any way out
Some way you can believe
Forever you will doubt
You will ever be free

The farther you go the less the chance
Of escaping this safe but miserable life
Quietly you wait. Fearing what comes next.
This pain you've grown use to like a battered wife

Into Your Bones

Written By: John McGrail

After a summer of long hard labor
planting your seeds and watching them grow
gathering the grain that came under your favor
preparing to feast as you watch the snow

you gave your sweat labor and love
planning your rest at the end of the year
your efforts were clearly more than enough
you had no reason to entertain fear

But the storm dashed your hopes
Testing your strength and making you cope
Destroying your land wealth and home
Driving the nails deep into your bones

now what reason have you to gather
the shamble and fragments strewn about
you have the strength but that does not matter
you stand alone crying out loud

and nothing was left
but you all alone
you gave your best
now it matters none

beyond your reach
injustice controls
and nothing seems fair
are there no rules

you need not ever hide these tears
you’re not alone against this wind
there are those who share your fear
we will be there as you start again
as we start again...

Vilify Me

Written By: John McGrail

Vilify me ridicule me
I don’t think like you
you don’t think like me
vilify me ridicule me
if you think I am crazy so let it be

If you got a blacklist
put my name right on top
for you immoral fascist
simply must be stopped
you call me a traitor cuz
I don’t think like you
makes me think you fear
the logic of my view

if you’ve got the money
legislation for a fee
but a government that’s bought
means that it is not free
and the media’s not liberal
its not even news
its just there to make money
and spew corporate views

you’ll legislate your morals if you can
creating these sorrows policies and bans
the earth if filled with sorrow the earth is filled with trash
what will come tomorrow
what is next to crash

the government I was taught
was by and for the people
but now its simply bought
a concept so feeble
and I don’t have enough money
to have my say
I’ll just have to wait for it all to trickle down

Killer and Pa

Written By: John McGrail

This is an instrumental piece!

Don't Make Me Stay

Written By: John McGrail

Don't make me stay
I don't want to be here anymore
I want to go away
And be with My lord

I've been here such a long time
I've been blessed to see and done So much
But this once healthy body
Has become such a terrible crutch

I put my life in your hands
Now as I always have
I cannot make demands
This is all that I ask

I know you know best
I'm so tired
I just need some rest
From this life

Whatever you tell me
I will surely do
But you can't really blame me
For wanting to be with you


Stained Bliss (2008)
Songs For Troubled Times (2004)
The Sun (1997)

Set List

All Our Fallen Tears
Cold Today
One By One
Fallen Angel
To His Knees
Don't Make Me Stay
90 Year Old Man
Sons Of Abraham
All Stays The Same
Sometimes We Just forget
Who The Hell Am I?
What Would Jesus Say
Just Like Tim McVeigh
Red Ball Blue
Almost Funny
Genocide Johnny
Villify Me
Into Your Bones
Train Whistle
Killer And Pa
Weighs On My Mind
In The Aftermath

There are many other songs I play, all but 3 are original. My song list is in excess of 100 songs. I usually will play up to 2 hours with a break in the middle